Advertising + Kids + Holidays: What’s the Message?

by , posted on November 7th, 2013 in Parenting


Have you guys seen the Toys R Us ad where they trick the kids into thinking they’re going on a trip to the woods? They show kids looking bored, yawning. The teacher/leader of the group gives a very dispassionate lesson about leaves. Just when the kids are looking the most bored, he rips off his trail guide outfit and reveals he’s really taking them all to Toys R Us.

Ironically, it was the commercial youtube aired at the beginning of our trees episode for PBS. Dave and I thought, WOW! This is amazing! Look, Toys R Us is showing kids the importance of nature! How clever is this timing?! Man, Toys R Us is awesome.

And then… Boom. Psych!

Man, did I feel a) stupid and b) disgusted.

Stupid, because I was duped. I really should have known better. The disgust came when it was made clear what so many of us parents (and frankly, our kids) are up against. Why are children so often portrayed as bored and one-dimensional?

I say this not because my kids have no want for shiny, plasticy things (they have plenty, I assure you), but it makes them look like that’s the only thing they care about.

Now should Toys R Us be concerned if they’re contributing to the image that kids are materialistic and have no complexity beyond, “GIVE IT TO ME! I WANT IT!”? I don’t know. They’re selling something and hey, aren’t we all?

All I know is that it leaves a nasty taste in my mouth. Kids deserve more respect than that. We parents, as the people who are the actual consumers at Toys R Us, deserve more respect than that too.

For those who missed it, click here to watch it and get the rationale behind the ad.

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4 Responses to “Advertising + Kids + Holidays: What’s the Message?”

  1. Jane@Buzzmills Says:

    November 7th, 2013 at 11:40 am

    oh boo! I haven’t seen that commercial…(i’ll have to take a look at it) but boo :( you had me irked from your facebook post before even reading the rest of your post. How frustrating, well said we DO all deserve more respect than that! And, airing before your trees episode no less, blah :( you should right them a letter, ha! :)

    Jen Reply:

    Joyce just left this article on the CP facebook page:

    Thankfully people are rising up and saying the ad was lame. Also? Get some actual parents in the room when you’re planning on marketing to parents.

  2. Brighton Says:

    November 7th, 2013 at 10:53 pm

    Here’s a response video I made with my friend’s kids. I’d love for folks to see it #NatureisWinning.

  3. Rose Says:

    November 11th, 2013 at 4:41 pm

    Hi Jen, first time on your blog (via Parscaeli). I know the commercial you are talking about and have seen it quite a few times in the past few days. I agree with your dislike for the ad. I thought it was a lame attempt at their idea of surprising the kids. There has to have been quite a few kids on that bus excited about their filed trip and the editing team sliced together a series of yawns and bored stares to play up Toys R Us’ surprise. I agree that it was also very poor taste to air before the trees episode.

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